Learning the Art of Sales Qualification – the ESSENTIAL skill that determines whether a prospect is a good fit for your sales offer!
THE MOST important part of the sales process. Any great sales process will incorporate a consistently enforced sales qualification criteria. Learn how to ensure that no sales leads fall out of your sales funnel!
Why is qualification so important?
Good sales qualification will remove a whole lot of wasted time, effort, money and planning.
Sales qualification is not only important to the seller; it’s just as important to the buyer.
Value to the buyer:
• It optimises the use of the buyer’s time and also their resources
• It helps the buyer to define the problem they are trying to solve
• It helps the buyer to identify a solution is best for ‘their’ organisation
• It helps the buyer secure executive buy-in for funding the solution.
Value to the seller:
• It optimises the focus and use of your time
• It ensures that all of your activities are focused on the sale
• It exposes problems within the sales opportunity
• It provides clarity for next steps and actions
• It eliminates any element of surprise during the sale process
• It allows your business to forecast sales and plan resources.
Sales Qualification is a series of steps that naturally fall within certain tasks of your sales process or framework.
Need a structured Sales Process & Framework?
Refer to our article “Creating a Successful Sales Team from Scratch” where we provide a downloadable guide providing detailed steps to creating a powerful sales framework. Download our How-To-Guide [DOWNLOAD GUIDE]
This “Art of Sales Qualification” document covers the following five steps:
• Step One – Understand your brand sales strategy
• Step Two – Understand the marketing campaigns which will drive marketing qualified leads (MQL)
• Step Three – Develop your phone qualification checklist (initial qualification stage)
• Step Four – Plan your meeting qualification process
• Step Five – Training, coaching & mentoring to build a sustainable sales pipeline.
DOWNLOAD THE WHITEPAPER: A detailed breakdown of these sales qualification steps plus an explanation of each is available within whitepaper download (too much information for the blog). [DOWNLOAD WHITEPAPER HERE]
Marketing builds sales leads
Your Brand Sales Strategy and Sales Plan would be the most important piece of work you will undertake outside how you manage the financials of your business. Without spending the time to create this, we guarantee that you will waste a LOT of time and money trying to generate very low-quality leads (noise).
1. How to build your Brand Strategy.
Download a copy of the rev™ 10-Step Brand Sales Strategy Development Guide [DOWNLOAD HERE]
2. How to build a Sales Strategy.
Download a copy of the rev™ Killer Sales Strategy Template [DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE]
Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) v Sales Qualified Leads (SQL)
In today’s digital sales environment, we have a bunch of tools that allow us to more easily and efficiently generate leads. But how do you measure the quality of these leads?
To be able to measure this, it’s important that you understand the difference between MQL and SQL.
The MQL is a lead who likely isn’t ready to buy, but they will respond to being nurtured through a range of educational nurturing programs (your sales funnel).
Further into the sales funnel, you will find an SQL, they are naturally more advanced down the educational nurturing process. These “leads” are more acceptable to some one-on-one time with your sales department.
Once the SQLs come out of the digital sales funnel, your sales team need to be trained, be armed with the right sales tools, and also have a clear and defined sales engagement process and framework in order to qualify these correctly.
Phone qualification (initial contact)
The first contact with the prospect is the most important of all sales stages.
It’s this contact that leaves the strongest impression on both parties, and can often be the deciding factor on whether you will do business or not (The attitude, skills, connection, and even feel of their offer).
Your phone qualification should be taken very seriously as it acts as the gateway to the rest of the sales process. If you feel that the prospect qualifies as a SQL and should be engaged more, you do. If you don’t feel they match your sales qualifying conditions, then they go back into the communications bucket as an MQL for further nurturing.
Create a Sales Qualification Questionnaire (or checklist) which can be used by your sales team to help identify the stage of this lead and the size of the opportunity.
IMPORTANT: this questionnaire will vary depending on the solution, industry, prospect type, etc. DO NOT build one size to fit all situations – it WILL fail.
Questionnaire example questions
(A full list is available in the whitepaper download).
Setting the scene
• What brings your enquiry to use?
• Tell me a bit about your company size and operations?
• I need to ask a few questions to better understand your needs
• We have a few different products, may I get some more information to help me ensure we are choosing the right solution for you?
Discovery “What” Questions
• What are the main issues you’re facing in order of importance?
• What are your goals or requirements?
• What is the reason you started to look for a solution?
Discovery “Why” Questions
• Why is this important to you or the business?
• Why are you feeling these issues or problems?
• Why did you come to our company for help?
Discovery “When” Questions
• When did you start seeing these issues?
• When did the business say “we need to solve this”?
• When was the time that forced you to solve this issue?
• When did you start looking for something to help?
Discovery “Who” Questions
• Who is impacted by this in the business?
• Who needs to be involved in the solution design process?
• Who is involved in the purchase or decision process?
Discovery “How” Questions
• How will you see this benefiting the business?
• How much do you think this would cost?
• How will this change impact the current way you operate?
• What functions do you expect to see in the solutions?
• How will these functions benefit the business?
• What the must-haves v nice to haves?
• Who makes the decision on the purchase?
• What are the timeframes for the decision, purchase and implementation?
• What is the purchase process?
PLEASE NOTE: We have only included three points for each of the above. For a detailed list of these points and an explanation of each, please download the whitepaper. [DOWNLOAD WHITEPAPER HERE]
You won’t answer every question from the one call.
The above needs to be built to suit your business sales needs and what you feel are important qualification questions. It’s this final version that you use to gain as much information as possible – perhaps even over a few calls.
Use open-ended questions within conversations.
Open-ended questions require the customer to think before they respond. This means that you will receive quality information that will help you determine their specific needs and wants. These types of questions also actively engage the customer. They will begin to feel more comfortable with you because they are actually participating in the buying/selling process and feel that you are genuinely interested.
Meeting qualification (one-on-one engagement)
Qualifying is gathering insights necessary to make a good judgement on the prospect and the opportunity.
Should you sell to this prospect? What is the best course of action to close a deal? Is this prospect a good fit for your offer? Is it a viable, ongoing sales relationship? Are they fishing for just price comparison?
Only after you’ve qualified someone can you really know whether it’s worth to invest your time and effort into trying to sell to a prospect.
The most common mistake in sales is where salespeople spend the majority of their time talking to the wrong people. If you are currently doing that, then you will know that it doesn’t matter how eloquently you present your service or product, the chances of making a sale will be extremely low.
There are a number of Sales Frameworks that have been designed by sales professionals over the years. The following version called BANT is a qualifying framework that will show you how to correctly qualify your prospect.
BANT is used at a variety of companies and in a variety of markets.
BANT seeks to uncover the following four pieces of information:
Budget – Is the prospect capable of buying?
Authority – Does your contact have adequate authority to sign off on a purchase?
Need – Does the prospect have a business pain you can solve?
Timeline – When is the prospect planning to buy?
Build your BANT Sales Qualification Framework
BANT provides you with a framework that allows you to develop your one-on-one meeting sales qualification checklist. You will need to tailor the questions around your industry, type of customer and problem/solution.
NOTES ON BANT: How to build your BRANT process plus the details within each step is available within the whitepaper download (too much detail for the blog). [DOWNLOAD WHITEPAPER HERE]
How NOT to qualify
• Stop talking and listen to the client
• Don’t get over-excited, breathe and relax
• Do not rapid-fire questions to the client; it’s not an interrogation session
• Don’t speak down about your competitors
• Don’t make false or over-exaggerated claims about your offer
• Engage professionally. No need to crude remarks and jokes
• Sales are based on relationships – learn how to create rapport.
Use Training, Coaching, and Mentoring like Oxygen
Ensure that you have the best training available to your sales team bit now, and also continued over time.
• Sales Training – how to sell!
• Product Training – your own products and services
• Systems / Process Training – the tools you use as part of your internal sales process
• Sales Coaching & Mentoring – This service, which is usually provided by subject matter experts, extends your product or functional training with advice, guidance, and most importantly, the strategy. It’s this total combination that builds self-confidence within sales staff and turns sales into business development.
Learn more about our sales coaching and sales mentoring programs.[LEARN MORE]
Download the Art to Qualification Whitepaper
[DOWNLOAD] the rev™ The Art of Sales Qualification. We packed all this great information PLUS a heap of detailed notes on each section within a free downloadable whitepaper (way too much info for this blog).
*Make sure you grab a copy of this document. This is one of the BEST tools we have created for salespeople…
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